A gap in auto insurance coverage is any length of time you have had an interruption in your auto insurance coverage. State laws may define a lapse differently and thus have different penalties if you are found with a gap in your auto insurance coverage.
For example the state of Minnesota defines a gap or lapse in car insurance coverage when a car owner does not maintain insurance (or another type of state authorized security) continuously on the vehicle throughout the period of the operation, maintenance or use of such motor vehicle while it is required to be registered or licensed, or is principally garaged in this state.
Changing insurance carriers or insuring different cars does not constitute a gap in coverage, unless you let your auto insurance lapse or do not replace coverage by your renewal date.
Being listed on your parents' auto insurance policy also counts toward continuous coverage.
Most insurance carriers will check to see if you have a continuous insurance coverage history. In general many companies will require no lapsed or terminated policies for preferred or standard driver rating. You are likely to be found to be a high risk driver if you have had lapses in insurance coverage due to non-payment or multiple claims. It is prudent you pay all premiums on time and not let your car insurance coverage lapse to save money with your insurance premiums and not be penalized by your state if they find out you were uninsured.
For instance in New York State penalties for a lapse include suspension of your registration and even driver's license. In NYS If you had a lapse in your insurance coverage in New York State and did not surrender your vehicle plates immediately, your registration is suspended for the same number of days that you did not have insurance coverage, but did hold the vehicle plates. However they say if your lapse was 90 days or less you can pay a civil fine based upon the number of days that you were uninsured.
If the time you had a gap in auto insurance coverage was more than 90 days, your driver license is also suspended for the same number of days as the registration. If you do not surrender your plates to the DMV they will suspend your registration and driver license indefinitely. To reinstate your driver license you must pay a fee of $25 when the suspension ends.
So a gap in auto insurance is when your car is still registered and your insurance coverage is not in effect basically. This may be due to changing insurers and you cancel one policy before starting the next, canceling insurance on a vehicle before turning in your plates to the state, you are late paying your policy and it cancels but then a few days later you pay and have it reinstated. Keep in mind many states will find that you have a lapse if you register a vehicle and wait to put insurance coverage on it.
Make sure you are not driving uninsured or have a gap in your auto insurance coverage by always making sure your policy is paid on time. If changing companies have the new coverages in effect before canceling your old coverage. You can get started with low cost car insurance quotes here with CarInsurance.com.